Since arriving back in the USA, we have been on the receiving end of a Biblical command. Saint Paul told us, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12: 13) Devotion to God shows itself in our care for others. In six weeks we have slept in half a dozen homes, eaten home-cooked meals with over a dozen families and had scores of Christians change their schedules to receive us with open arms. It is a joy to see that the ministry of hospitality is alive and well in America today.
In the New Testament, following Christ means caring for followers of Christ. Yet Christian hospitality even extends beyond brothers to strangers, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2) The Greek guys say that the original term for hospitality is literally “love of strangers.” Recently, we saw this verse played out on Easter Sunday at a home where we ourselves were guests. Our hosts invited a Native American college student to his first Easter Church service and then asked him to enjoy a great meal and a day of fun at their home. The young man is not a Christian. He comes from a shamanic family and practices traditional Native American beliefs. Yet our friends opened their homes and hearts to him. Consequently, we had a great conversation with him about truth and faith that evening.
One of the primary ways New Testament Believers shared their faith was through their homes. To invite someone to eat with you is a big deal in every culture I have ever visited. To share food is to share life. Table fellowship is especially important in Scripture. God invites the elders of Israel for a meal with Him on Mount Sinai. Jesus invites the five thousand to partake of his homemade bread. After his resurrection, and their night of fishing, Jesus cooks a breakfast of fish for his disciples on the beach. At the last supper Christ gave us more than bread and wine; he gave us himself. That is why the center of Christian worship is a meal. Divine hospitality brings us into communion with God.
Christian missions is all about hospitality. “Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.” (Matthew 22:9) Christ invites all people everywhere to feast with our Heavenly Father and find rest in his heavenly home. “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9)
So, as followers of Christ we reflect God’s hospitality. He opened his home to us, we open our homes to others. He has invited us to His table. We invite others to ours. While it is a humbling joy to be on the receiving end, let me share a little secret. Christians who abound in hospitality are some of the most joyful people I know. There is a deeply fulfilling reward even in this life for those who by opening their hearts and homes reflect God’s generosity.
Thank you so much. See you at the supper.
Gary Tebbe and Family.